Everything You Need to Know About Bankruptcy

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1 Everything You Need to Know About Bankruptcy Raymond J. Sallum Bloomfield, Michigan B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 1

2 Hello, My name is Raymond and I would like to thank you for downloading my free bankruptcy report. I have put a lot of effort into making this as informative as I could so that you have all the right information when making your decision to file for bankruptcy. If you have already made that decision then This report will make sure that you do everything correctly from here on out. Many people are unaware that there are things you could do that might get you in trouble. Or if you do not have the correct documents with you, you will not be able to file for bankruptcy. I put this report together for my paying clients so that their bankruptcy goes smoothly and they can move on with their lives free from the burden of overwhelming debt. I am willing to give you this same report because I want the same for you. I have even included a section on rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy so that you truly get a fresh start in life. If you have any questions while you are reading through my report feel free to pick up the phone and give me a call. I am more than happy to answer any question about bankruptcy that you have. There will be no pressure to come in for a meeting, I promise that I will NOT send you a bill in the mail and it will not count as your free consultation if you should decide you want to talk with me more in the future. I simply want to help. In the 24 years that I have been doing bankruptcy I have found the more I help people the better I have done. That is why I am making this offer for you. Raymond J. Sallum B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 2

3 Content Bankruptcy do s and don ts 5 Chapter 7. 6 Documents required for bankruptcy 6 How to restore your credit after bankruptcy. 8 Does bankruptcy clear IRS debt? 9 B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 3

4 Documents Needed to File Bankruptcy Last 2 years of filed tax returns Driver s license Social Security card Pay stub showing year-to-date income Recorded mortgages and recorded deeds for all real estate Vehicle titles for automobiles, ATVs, sport water craft, trailers, and mobile homes Bank statements for the last ninety (90) days Credit report List of all assets List of all debt including addresses, account numbers and dates All lawsuits Mortgage statement showing current balance or mortgage, payments, and escrows SEV (tax bill) B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 4

5 Bankruptcy Do's and Don'ts PRE-BANKRUPTCY DOS AND DON'TS If you are being harassed by creditors, but you aren't sure that you will have to file bankruptcy, there are some Dos and Don'ts which may protect some of your property if you do eventually have to file. Continue making payments on vehicles which you intend to keep. Creditors secured by a car or truck can usually repossess the vehicle without notice to you anytime you are in default in your payments. It will ordinarily take longer for other creditors (including those secured by other property) to act on a debt that is in default. Note: If your car has been repossessed but not yet sold, you may be able to get it back if you file Chapter 13 immediately. Do not borrow from or withdraw 401k, IRA, and ERISA qualified savings and retirement plans to pay bills. Early withdrawal of these funds makes you liable for penalties and taxes which may not be discharged in bankruptcy. ERISA and 40IK funds are exempt from creditors in bankruptcy, as are IRA funds in Michigan (except deposits made within 6 months before filing) and many other states. If you don't use these funds, you are very likely to have them to draw on after bankruptcy. Do not borrow money on your home to pay unsecured (i.e. credit card, utility or medical) bills. If you take out a second mortgage on your home, you may be converting debt which would have been discharged in bankruptcy into debt which you will still have to pay in order to keep your home. These additional payments could be high enough to cause you to lose your home. Do give "friendly" creditors a security interest in non-exempt property. If you have to borrow money from a friend or relative you could give that creditor a security interest in the property which you own. For example, if you have a car which is not exempt and you are borrowing money from a relative, he or she could take a security interest in the car for the loan. This will reduce your equity in the car, and the likelihood that the trustee will take the car. It will also protect your relative by insuring that they will be paid from the proceeds if the trustee does take the car since he must pay off creditors secured by property which he takes. Caution: The loan must be a legitimate transaction (you must actually receive the money), and the security interest must be granted at the time the loan is made. You cannot give a security interest for a previous loan. Giving a security interest for an existing loan could be a transfer of a property interest in fraud of other creditors which could result in a denial of your discharge. [ 727] All laws and formalities regarding secured transactions must be followed, such as placing the creditor's name on the title for loans secured by vehicles and the recording of a deed of trust for loans secured by real property. Do not pay $600 or more back to relatives or business associates who have lent you money. Payment of a total of $600 or more to an "insider" (which includes relatives and business associates) within one year before you file bankruptcy is a "preference." The trustee may recover preferences from the person that was paid and divide the money between all of your creditors. (Payment of $600 or more to any other creditor within 90 days before the case is filed is also a preference.) [ 547] Do not put property you own into someone else's name to avoid it being taken by creditors or the trustee. That kind of transfer is a fraud on creditors and can result in your discharge being denied [ 727]. In addition, the trustee can take the property from the person to whom it was transferred [ 548]. B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 5

6 Do reduce the amount withheld from your pay for taxes. If you expect to get a tax refund, reduce your withholding so that you do not get refund. Federal and state tax refunds are routinely taken in Chapter 7, and may effect plan payments in Chapter 13. Caution: Don't reduce the withholding for tax so much that you will have a big tax bill to pay! POST-FILING BANKRUPTCY DOS AND DON'TS CHAPTER 7 If I have already filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for you there are some important DOs and Don'ts which come into play during the pendency of your case. Do continue making payments on vehicles which you intend to keep. Creditors secured by a car or truck can usually repossess the vehicle without notice to you anytime you are in default in your payments. It will ordinarily take longer for other creditors (including those secured by other property) to act on a debt that is in default. Note: If your car has been repossessed but not yet sold, you may be able to get it back if you file Chapter 13 immediately. Do not Sell or Transfer or give away any Assets you have without contacting me first. The filing of your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition creates a Bankruptcy Estate which temporarily comes under the control of the Trustee who is assigned to your particular case. The Trustee's job is to Liquidate (sell and reduce to cash) any property that is not exempt under State or Federal Law. Typically, few Chapter 7's that I file have any assets that are liquidated, and usually if there are likely to be assets in a case, I will have informed you of any potential Trustee liquidation before filing. Nevertheless, DO NOT sell, give away, transfer title, settle any personal injury lawsuits or otherwise dispose of any of your property while your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is pending. Do be concerned if a few Creditors still attempt to Contact you or send you bills or collection letters after filing. 99% of your creditors will stop harassing phone calls or threatening letters shortly after the filing of your bankruptcy. By operation of law, immediately upon the filing of your bankruptcy petition, the "Automatic Stay" goes into effect. This stay prevents all of your creditors from taking any action to attempt to collect a debt. This includes calling you by phone at home or at work, sending collection letters, starting or continuing lawsuits against you, garnishing wages, repossessing vehicles or other security and foreclosing on your home. Occasionally, a creditor will still call or send a letter after the Notice of Commencement of Bankruptcy case has gone out in the mail. If this happens to you, simply send a copy of this Notice to the creditor who is still contacting you or tell them to call my office to verify the filing of your case. Do call my office when you get your Notice of Meeting of Creditors (this is your Chapter 7 Court Hearing date and you MUST ATTEND. DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED AT.341 HEARING PURSUANT TO LOCAL BANKRUPTCY RULE Be sure to bring the following items to your hearing with you, neatly organized for the Trustee. Arrive 1/2 hour early and be prepared. DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED AT.341 HEARING PURSUANT TO LOCAL BANKRUPTCY RULE DRIVER LICENSE OR STATE I.D. 2. SOCIAL SECURITY CARD (or something with SS# on it) 3. TAX RETURNS FOR LAST YEAR. 4. TITLES for all vehicles. This includes boats, mobile homes, motorcycles. (NOTE: It is B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 6

7 extremely important that you have the title to all vehicles that you legally own. If you cannot find your title, you MUST go to the Secretary of State and get a duplicate title in time for your Court Hearing, otherwise you WILL have to come back for another hearing. NOTE: If you are leasing your car, you do not have an ownership interest and therefore do not have title.) 5. IF YOU OWN OR ARE BUYING A HOUSE OR RENTAL PROPERTY, YOU MUST BRING THE FOLLOWING: DEED (warranty or quit claim) or COPY of your LAND CONTRACT MORTGAGE BALANCE STATEMENT ($ owed on your MORTGAGE (s)) PROPERTY TAX BILL (SEV) shows assessed value (STATE EQUALIZED VALUE) APPRAISAL IF YOU HAVE ONE (part of closing papers) 6. DIVORCE JUDGMENTS if you have recently been divorced. 7. RECENT PAY STUB, for a typical pay period. 8. PENSION PLAN DOCUMENTS if you have a pension or 401 k. 9. STOCK AND BOND CERTIFICATES if you own these items. 10. BE SURE TO BRING BALANCE ON ATTORNEY FEE OR ANY REMAINING COURT FILING FEE. FAILURE TO BRING ANY OF ABOVE WILL RESULT IN ADDITIONAL COURT APPEARANCES, DELAY IN OBTAINING DISCHARGE OF YOUR DEBTS, OR COMPLETE DISMISSAL OF YOUR CASE!!!!! B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 7

8 Life after Bankruptcy - How to Restore Your Credit after a Bankruptcy It is unfortunate that many bankruptcy attorneys do not give their clients more direction with regard to restoring themselves after their bankruptcy. There are some simple steps that anyone who files a bankruptcy needs to take in order to restore themselves financially. Using these steps below, you can restore your credit and prepare yourself to become a home owner. 1. Get a copy of your credit report. Many times (most times) the credit accounts that are absolved with your bankruptcy are not removed from your credit report immediately. 2. Have derogatory credit items removed from your credit report. For the items charged off in your bankruptcy, you will need to send a copy (not the original) of your bankruptcy discharge papers to all 3 of the credit bureaus asking them to remove these inaccuracies. 3. Pay all of your bills on time. Bankruptcy is a means to financial recovery. It is intended to allow you to "start over" financially. After your bankruptcy, you need to make sure that all of your bills are paid on time. If you are having trouble with an upcoming bill, DO NOT IGNORE IT. This is where most people go wrong. Call your creditors before they call you and let them know what your challenges are. If you can't get a reasonable rep on the line, ask for a supervisor, but again, do this as early as possible, not the day the bill is due or after it is late. If you are having trouble with your bills, you may need to solicit some help. 4. Have a strong documented rental history. This is pretty critical, as it is most likely the largest monthly expense that you have. Underwriters (the people that actually sign off on your loan's approval) will look very hard at how you have paid your rent as they are going to replace it with a mortgage payment of equal or greater size. It is very important to be able to document your rent payment history very specifically. If you rent from an apartment community, then all the bank will have to do is request a Verification of Rent (a.k.a. VOR). If you have a private landlord, then the BEST way to document this is with cancelled checks for the last 12 months rent. Banks can do VOR's for private landlords, but rarely do because they feel that a landlord may have a relationship with the borrower and say what the bank wants to hear to help them get a loan. If you pay with cash or money orders, please stop doing this immediately and start paying with checks. Simply put, this is hurting you because by filing a bankruptcy you have already shown some financial instability. Paying your rent with cash or money order shows further financial instability and will not give you the positive rent history that the underwriter is looking for to give them the confidence in approving your loan. 5. Apply for a secured credit card - A secured credit card allows you to make a deposit into an account to secure a credit card and then borrow against it to establish a new positive payment history. As time progresses, the bank may increase your credit line to an amount greater than your deposit, and then eventually return your deposit to you. (They will also often pay you interest on your deposit.) 6. Prepare "nontraditional" trade references - These are accounts that you pay on such as cell phones, car insurance, and store accounts which can be used to document a positive payment history, but would not be traditionally reported to a credit bureau. Ideally, if you can provide 3 of these accounts with a 12-month payment history, this will help us in convincing the bank that you are a good credit risk. The best way to document this is with a letter from the company stating that you have had a positive payment history with them for the past 12 months. Alternatively, you can provide 12 months of cancelled checks showing 12 months of timely payments. B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 8

9 7. Resist the urge (or encouragement) to buy a car. Some may tell you that this is the best way to rebuild your credit. The problem is that your interest rate will be so high, that your payments will make your debt ratios higher than normal, making it harder to qualify for a mortgage. Do you remember the figure of 45-50% of your monthly income that the bank will allow you to use towards your debts? This will quickly be absorbed by a car payment. Only buy a car if a) you NEED (not want) a car, and b) you have the income to cover the car payment, any of your current debts, and your proposed new car payment. We have seen SEVERAL people that have cars rather than homes because they went out and bought a car that they could not sell and their debt ratios were too high to qualify for a mortgage. It would be a shame to have a nice car (that depreciates daily), as opposed to a more humble car along with a mortgage on a home that gives you a tax break, and increases in value over time. Does Bankruptcy Clear IRS Debt? Bankruptcy can clear some types of tax debt. It will not clear a federal tax lien that has attached to your assets. However, when no tax lien has been filed, income tax debt can be discharged and cleared from your record if some very specific requirements are met in either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 proceeding. Not only can bankruptcy clear IRS income tax debt, it can get rid of state and local income tax debt as well. Timing is an important issue in clearing a tax debt and there are some other basic steps that must be followed. To discharge income tax debt, the following rules apply: 1. Your tax returns must have been due three years or more before the petition was filed 2. Your tax returns have to have been filed more than two years before the petition 3. The tax you owe must have been assessed against you by the government for at least 240 days before the case is filed 4. Your tax returns must have been truthful and not fraudulent and 5. You must not have been intentionally attempting to evade or defeat the tax when you failed to pay. There are some technical rules that can complicate a discharge of tax, but in most cases the tax will be discharged if the above requirements are met. If a notice of federal tax lien has been filed by the IRS, the tax debt covered by the lien becomes attached to any assets you own at the time it is filed. What is worse is that it attaches to anything new you get so long as the lien is in effect. This applies as long as you owe the tax. Until the collection time limit expires or the tax debt is cleared the lien remain in place. *The Law offices of Raymond J. Salloum is a debt relief agency authorized to file bankruptcy petitions on behalf of clients, including individuals, businesses and other legal entitles residents of the State for at least 180 days prior to filing. B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 9

10 B l o o m f i e l d L a w G r o u p R a y m o n d J. S a l l u m ( ) Page 10

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